I remember the first time I discovered the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. I was 9 years old and living in Japan as a military kid. Something about this poem captivated me:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.- Robert Frost
At 10 years old I could not have understood that the road less traveled would feel adventurous, difficult and lonely. Almost a decade later I found myself with an infant faith in Jesus, calling me to His narrow way:
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.- Jesus (Matthew 7:13-14)
In a hand written letter to God, I surrender my life to Jesus, committing to the road less traveled. I only had one stipulation. I could not do it single. I would do anything God asked. I just could not do it alone. I would need a partner in marriage.
I found my letter tucked away in a book years later. I was 35, still single and all I could do was thank God that He was faithful to what I offered, in spite of my footnote. He had been gracious to that 19 year old young woman, longing for love and connection.
The Experience of Single Life
My struggles were the same as most young women making their way in the world without a husband. I lived on one income. I had little to no savings. I struggled with feeling like I was wandering through life. I saw most of my friends get married, have children and buy a home. I had none of these. I worshiped in a church where everyone seemed to be on the same road of raising a family. Most sermon stories didn’t apply to me and it seemed I was expected to only serve with children. I did a lot of things alone: grocery shopping, meal times, car maintenance, sitting in church services, paying bills, grieving a broken heart, resolving conflict, gaining and losing friendships, crying, traveling, moving, praying and sleeping. I could go days without hugging another human being. If you are single, maybe you get this.
I was blessed with a caring, loving family and good friends through these years. The body of Christ became His grace to me and I found sweetness in these relationships. I was never fully alone, but if truth be told, there is no relationship equivalent to marriage.
I didn’t know why this was my path, but I knew God’s response to my questions. This was the good life God was giving me. God’s goodness was keeping me in the absence of a deep longing and this road was leading to LIFE.
A Good Life?
Chances are, if you reading this it is because you are single or have a close friend who struggles with the unmet longing for marriage. There are a hundred issues, questions, blessings and struggles that come with being single. But I have become convinced that there is only one thing that will anchor you to find life during this season.
Can you know the goodness of God when you live in the absence of a deep longing? Stop and read that again. When I want something so much it aches, is God still being good to me when He says “no?” Does love look like allowing me to live in the absence?
Everyone grieves the absence of something. A woman grieves the husband she may never have. A man grieves the income he may never have. A wife grieves the children she may never have. A widow grieve the health that is long behind her. Death. Sickness. The Christian life is a dance of grieving what is not yet in our broken world, but rejoicing in the presence, power, and person of Jesus. This rejoicing is not just a bland affirmation of a belief. It is a vibrant experience of fullness.
There are only two roads to travel on this journey. If the goodness and intimate friendship you have with God does not anchor your heart, then the absence of a longing will be become unbearable. You will live in the frustration, exhaustion, fear and never ending consuming thoughts of how to get your longing met all on your own. You will have displaced a good and kind God, with an idol of your own; marriage.
And when your idol fails you, disappoints you and leaves you again to your own devices, you will again find yourself longing for an intangible something.
Or you can take the road less traveled. This road bends the heart and knee to the goodness of God. This road leads to an intimacy that merely church-ing your way through life can not even comprehend. This is the road that gets rocky, but does not abandon you to fall. This road leads to true life, deep relationships, a faithful walk with Jesus, partnering with God in His work in the world and experiencing a life that few will ever know.
Here, you find the truest meaning of your life: God invites you to partake of His divine presence and participate in His divine purpose. He is up to something in the world and you are called to be part of it. You were meant for more than the four walls of a home and marriage (both of which are good). You were meant for a grand life that touches the entire world around you. You were meant to reflect God’s goodness in a way for which you alone were created.
But how can we reflect His goodness to the world around us if we lose sight of it when He does not bend to our demands?
Over the years, I have learned to live in the truth of the road not traveled:
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you! -Psalm 84: 11-12
I love when God is a sun to me, lighting me up in my world. This garners the favor and admiration of others. But I know what it is like for God to be my shield. This is when I feel hidden from the world for my good and for His purposes.
Now, as a wife, mother, neighbor, friend, daughter, sister and pastor, I still strive to walk the road less traveled. I love my wonderful husband and my precious daughter, but they are not my life. My world is bigger than the four walls of my home and my calling is larger than my finite heart can contain.
Which road will you take?
*Do you have specific questions about this road? Just hit the “Dear Stacie” tab in the menu and I would be happy to share your question with a response.